Giles Warrick is the 60-year-old South Carolina man who is accused of being the “Potomac River rapist.” The serial rapist killed a Washington D.C. intern and raped nine other women during a seven-year crime spree in the 1990s, according to the FBI and local police.
Forensic genealogy allowed authorities to identify Warrick, who will be charged with first-degree murder and charges relating to the multiple sexual assaults, authorities revealed in a press conference on November 14, 2019. Authorities called Warrick’s alleged acts “heinous” and said it took a “collective effort” over multiple years to identify the suspect. The same technique was previously used to apprehend the alleged Golden State Killer, as well as solve other cases throughout the country.
Between 1991 and the intern’s murder seven years later, the Potomac River Rapist “brazenly and brutally preyed upon women in the Washington area,” the FBI reports. Jail records reviewed by Heavy show that Giles Daniel Warrick was booked into the Horry County Jail in South Carolina on November 13, 2019 at 3:29 a.m. No bail has been set. Warrick is now from Conway, South Carolina but lived in Maryland for years.
“Victims were attacked in their homes and included an 18-year-old babysitter and a mother whose infant was in the house at the time of the attack. Seven of the nine attacks have been linked by DNA, and all are linked by the offender’s similar violent methods,” the FBI wrote about the Potomac River Rapist before Warrick was arrested.
Seven of the rapes occurred in Montgomery County, Maryland, and two of them occurred in D.C.
“It is believed the suspect lived in, spent a considerable amount of time in, or was otherwise familiar with the areas of the attacks,” said Special Agent Erin Sheridan before the recent arrest. “The suspect is generally described as an African-American male of medium build who is currently believed to be in his 40s or 50s.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Christine Mirzayan, a National Academy of Sciences Intern, Was Bludgeoned to Death by the Rock-Wielding Serial Rapist
One young woman, Christie Mirzayan, 29, lost her life, the FBI says, at the hands of the serial rapist. At the time of her murder, Mirzayan was a National Academy of Sciences intern.
She had “a promising career ahead of her on the summer evening in 1998 when she was walking home from a cookout in Washington, D.C.,” the FBI reported. “Tragically, she never made it.”
The FBI explained that Christine Mirzayan “was the last known victim of the Potomac River Rapist. On the evening of August 1, 1998, the 29-year-old had walked to a friend’s cookout in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C. Recently married, Mirzayan had come to Washington from San Francisco for an internship at the National Academy of Sciences and was living in student housing at Georgetown University.”
When the cookout was over, “a group of her friends decided to go out dancing, but Mirzayan declined because she was recovering from the flu. She started to walk home by herself, but she never made it. On her way, she was raped and repeatedly bludgeoned with a 73-pound rock,” the FBI says.
Two witnesses later told police they “had seen Mirzayan walking along a dark stretch of road with a man following her. The witnesses helped police create a sketch of that individual—which has since been age-enhanced—and he is being sought in connection with the case.” That’s the photo next to the suspect’s mugshot at the top of this story.
Authorities explained in a November 14, 2019 news conference that Christine “was attacked and pulled into a wooded area” where she was attacked and “brutally beaten.” In addition to being sexually assaulted, she had been struck “multiple times in the head with a large rock.”
2. Warrick Once Worked for a Landscaping & Utility Company, Authorities Say
Giles Warrick recently moved to South Carolina, authorities said. He was living in the Washington D.C. metro area until recently, authorities said. Court records show he had Maryland addresses for years through spring 2019.
He had a landscaping company for a time and worked as a contractor for a utility company. That allowed him to “move around a lot,” said authorities.
Warrick used a Maryland address in March 2019, though, when he received a traffic citation in Virginia, according to a review of records there by Heavy.
Authorities said in the news conference they knew that they had a single suspect because of matching DNA. That’s where genetic genealogy came in. Authorities said in the news conference that the technique comes “from these DNA companies that are actually tracking down family members…we were able to, based on the matches of the DNA we had in those cases, be able to make some matches that were publicly online.”
The process generally works this way: Authorities submit crime scene DNA to open-source DNA websites that people use to do genealogical research. They are able to identify a suspect’s family tree that way, sometimes even through distant relatives.
Next, they use shoe-leather investigative techniques to go through the family tree to identify plausible suspects. Once they find them, they match the suspect DNA with those people.
In California, the technique allowed authorities to identify the alleged Golden State Killer.
Authorities said they will look into other cold cases around areas where Warrick lived and worked.
3. Warrick Has a Criminal History in Maryland
Maryland court records reviewed by Heavy show that Warrick has prior criminal charges.
In 2006, he was accused of second-degree assault, a misdemeanor. At the time, his address was given as Ijamsville, Maryland. In 1997, he was accused of violating a protective order. Both cases involved the same woman. She also filed a paternity and support action against Warrick in 1992.
In 2006, he was accused of theft. He was also accused of battery in 1986 and of violating probation in that case. There’s a second assault and battery case from that same year.
He was accused of theft in 1991, a case filed that June, one month after what police say was the Potomoc River Rapist’s first attack.
4. Most of the Victims of the Potomac River Rapist Were Assaulted Inside Their Own Homes, Sometimes With Children Present
The FBI has attributed the following attacks to the Potomac River Rapist:
“Incident 1: Monday, May 6, 1991, between 8-11 p.m. The 32-year-old victim was returning from a business trip when she was attacked inside her home in the Washingtonian Woods community of Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Incident 2: Thursday, Sept. 5, 1991, between 10-10:30 p.m. An 18-year-old babysitter was attacked inside a home in the Watkins Meadows community of Germantown, Maryland.
Incident 3: Thursday, Nov. 21, 1991, between 9-10 p.m. A 41-year-old woman was attacked in her home near Potomac Village and the downtown area of Bethesda, Maryland.
Incident 4: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 1991, between 8:30-9 p.m. A 36-year-old woman was home in the Quince Orchard Knolls community of North Potomac, Maryland with her young children when she was attacked.
Incident 5: Friday, Jan. 24, 1992, at approximately 9 p.m. A 34-year-old live-in housekeeper was attacked at her employer’s home in the Potomac Grove community of North Potomac.
Incident 6: Tuesday, March 8, 1994, between 7-8 p.m. A 35-year-old woman was at home in the Highwood community of Rockville, Maryland with her young children when she was attacked.
Incident 7: Saturday, July 20, 1996, between 8:30 – 8:45 p.m., A 58-year-old victim was attacked while walking in the 4900 block of MacArthur Blvd, in the Palisades neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
Incident 8: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 1997, between 7-8 p.m. A 19-year-old woman was attacked in her Rockville residence in the Rock Creek Manor community when she came home from work.
Incident 9: Friday, Nov. 14, 1997, between 7:30-8 p.m. A 30-year-old woman was attacked in her Silver Spring, Maryland home near New Hampshire Avenue and Route 198 after returning from grocery shopping.
Incident 10: Saturday, Aug. 1, 1998, between 10:30-11 p.m. Christine Mirzayan, a 29-year-old intern, was attacked and murdered in the 3600 block of Canal Road while walking to her residence in the Georgetown area of Washington, DC.”
5. A Law Enforcement Task Force Created a Website to Help Catch the Potomac River Rapist, Writing That the Attacker Often ‘Used a Blitz Attack’
A joint law enforcement task force launched a major effort to solicit the public’s help in identifying the rapist, even creating a website.
The task force was comprised of the FBI, MPD, Maryland’s Montgomery County Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. The outreach efforts included using “FBI.gov, social media, radio spots, and digital billboards.”
“The rapist used a blitz attack, surprising his victims with force—sometimes wielding a knife or screwdriver—and throwing a blanket or towel over their heads,” said Capt. David Gillespie of the Montgomery County Police Department on the website. “He often stalked his targets, breaking into their homes and waiting, sometimes for hours, for them to come home.”
“It has been more than 20 years since this predator began stalking, hunting, and sexually assaulting women,” said Todd Williams, an MPD detective who is part of the Potomac River Rapist Task Force. “He became increasingly violent during these attacks and killed Christine Mirzayan by bludgeoning her with a boulder. He is extremely violent and dangerous and needs to be caught and taken off the streets.”
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